Summer provides us with lots of time to fill with fun activities for our kids. One activity that kids particularly like is eating outside whether it be at a picnic or just having dinner on the back deck. It also provides parents a check up on how well their kid’s table manners have developed…or not. Teaching kids manners can sometimes seem like a life long process and one that can easily become unpleasant. However, when you mix the manners with the fun, learning them becomes a pleasure that kids not only enjoy, but remember.
When planning summer party ideas for kids, consider having a manners picnic which involves eating fun food and learning manners at the same time. The rules are simple. Before a meal, explain and demonstrate to your children what manners they will be focusing on during the game. Place a small party napkin by each plate and place 5-10 M&M’s, Skittles, nuts or some other treat on it. Make it clear that they are not allowed to touch them until the game and the meal are completely over. Keep a small stockpile at your place as well. Start the meal as usual.
When you see a child displaying proper manners, take one from your pile and put it on the child’s plate affirming their good manners. If the child displays an impolite behavior, take one away, asking the child to guess why you did it. If they can guess, put it back on their napkin. If they can’t, give it to the first one who can or add it to your stockpile. Continue this throughout the meal until it is finished. When the game is declared officially over, the children can eat whatever is sitting on their napkin as a reward.
This game practically teaches good manners while being a game that they will ask for again and again. As they age more manners can be added. Some things you can teach are:
- Waiting until everyone is seated before eating.
- Asking for food to be passed instead of reaching across the table.
- Keeping the napkin in the lap and using it properly.
- Saying “please” and “thank you”.
- Drinking without slurping.
- Chewing with the mouth closed.
- Handling silverware properly.
- Complimenting and thanking the cook for the meal.
- Discouraging burping at the table, unless there’s a contest going on, of course!
- Asking to be excused from the table.
- Clearing their dishes.
Good manners are a necessary skill for every child to learn. It’s much more effective if it can be a fun activity too. And while you’re teaching your children, they may just help you brush up on your own skills.